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Rogue Trader Tournament, 01/18/03
The Stripey Phalanx of Death <> Photos
Rogue Trader Tournament,
01/18/03: The Stripey Phalanx of Death
I also wanted
to re-use an army list I had played at Fall From
Grace III in Greenville, South Carolina. My 2000-point “Tigers
Eternal” force had improbably pulled out a win against Dwayne Powell
and his Tau, and I was curious to see how it would fare again. I scaled
down the list to the RTT’s 1850-point limit and re-named it “The Stripey
Phalanx of Death.” (SPoD)
I knew going into the tourney that the SPoD, just like the “Tigers Eternal” list, would be an enormous challenge to use. Normally, I try to have lots of mobile elements in my armies. The SPoD had two units of Assault Marines and a Librarian with a jump pack—not bad, but nothing to rival any Eldar or Dark Eldar armies I might face. Normally, I try to bring lots of heavy weapons to tournaments, because I always wind up facing lots of Marine armies (Loyal or Traitor). The SPoD had four Tactical Squads packing missile launchers; a mess of Marines with plasma guns, melta guns, and flamers; and two Dreadnoughts. Again, not bad, but certainly not a “Shooty Army From Hell.”
But what the SPoD did have going for it was lots of Troops: 50 Tactical Marines (all that I own) in six squads. Like Rocky Balboa, this army couldn’t move very fast or hit very hard, but it sure could take a punch. I might not win any battles, but I’d certainly score well for Composition.
One additional challenge was that the new “4th Edition” Assault Rules would be used. I had studied them but never used them before—this was sure to be interesting (read Michael Lietzke’s thoughts on the new rules).
So what happened?
Game 1: An Unpleasant
As stated in the scenario handout, my mission objective was to “control the Defender’s deployment zone. For each attacking unit 50% or over its original unit strength or undamaged vehicle in the Defender’s deployment zone, the attacker receives Victory Points equal to the unit’s points value.” Davis’ objective was simply to keep me out of his deployment zone, with the note that “any Attacking units that are completely destroyed or have fled off the table by the end of the game are worth double victory points.”
Uh huh. Well, now I found myself in a bind. I’ve only played four games against Tyranids using 3rd Edition rules, but I know that setting up near them is like walking through the South Bronx by yourself, after dark, waving around a big wad of cash. There are few faster ways to get your ass kicked.
But on the other hand, my all-infantry army needed to march into Davis’ deployment zone to score bonus Victory Points. What to do?
I was sorely tempted to play it safe and hang back and shoot until I got a look at Davis’ army:
So against my better judgment, I set up as you can see below. My plan was to shoot his Raveners first, have my Tactical Squads absorb the charge from his Gaunts, then counterattack with Vashtar and my Assault Marines. After that, I would be free to gun down the rest of his plodding Big Bugs, then march my closest units into his deployment zone.
The key to this plan was to swiftly wipe out the Gaunts so I get on to bigger and better (and badder) things. I won the roll to go first. Being in no hurry to engage the Nids in hand-to-hand combat, I had my troops (including the Assault Marines) hold their ground; those who were in range, fired. Four out of six Raveners dropped, and I killed a bunch of “Hormagaunts” as well. So far, the plan was working.
On Davis’ turn, his Carnifex dealt my plan a serious blow by getting in a lucky glancing hit with the venom cannon and destroying one of my Dreadnoughts, Tiger Eternal Shrendi Vashtar. The “Hormagaunts” rushed a Tactical Squad and a few of them made it into close combat—which, of course, is all it took, as they had the Leaping ability.
It was then
that I uncovered an unpleasant surprise. Davis had created his own Gaunt
species. Each of his “Termagants” had (to the best of my recollection)
the following stats:
Each of his
“Hormagaunts” had (to the best of my recollection) the following stats:
Each brood also had a mutant with a Hive Node. I had deployed expecting these critters to be scrubs. They weren’t.
Davis also deployed his two Lictors and we ran into a gray area on the rules. The scenario stated “Units that may Infiltrate may be set up…at least 18" away from an enemy unit and behind cover.” Naturally, I insisted that the Lictors set up 18" away—who needs those big, icky buggers running around near one’s lines?
Davis reasonably (and politely) argued that he should be able to set the Lictors up closer, as per the Secret Deployment rules for them (page 11 of Codex: Tyranids). The judge didn’t know how to call it, so we rolled a d6 and Davis won. His Lictors deployed right outside my deployment zone, rushed a 5-man Tactical Squad, and began to eat them for lunch. Literally.
Turn 2 saw my Assault Marines on the left countercharging the “Hormagaunts.” They managed to break them, and the little monsters fell back—only to come charging back in on their turn after rolling “Attack!” on the Tyranid Instinctive Behavior table (page 6 of Codex: Cucaracha). Someday, I’m going to write a very long and tiresome rant on my feelings about some of these Tyranid rules….
Meanwhile, I moved up my other Assault Squad and exploited another Goofy Bug Rule (GBR), “Shoot the Big Ones!” I pasted six of the Genestealers headed my way and they (amazingly) fell back. My surviving Dreadnought, Surya, managed to vaporize one of the Zoanthropes, and some of my many, many Tactical Marines polished off the other two Raveners.
In his turn, Davis continued with what was working for him. His “Hormagaunts” devoted themselves to literally chewing up my Assault Marines, while his Lictors did what they do best. His Tyrant, Carnifex, and Zoats did nothing with their shooting, but they were relentlessly advancing. Davis had assigned two Guard to his Tyrant and one to his Carnifex—technically illegal, but I was happy to let him do that, as my next shooting target was the Tyrant.
Turn 3 saw me struggling with more hordes of Gaunts, with both Assault Squads fully engaged and fighting for their lives. I directed my shooting at the Tyrant, perforating one of the bodyguard. The Carnifex managed to blow the lascannon off Surya, the Zoanthropes pasted some of my unengaged Tactical Squads, the Genestealers regrouped and attacked the Assault Marines, and the Lictors were still chowing down, slowing rolling their way down my flank. One of the many annoying thing about this battle was that I was pegged in such a narrow deployment zone: as soon as one of my 5-man Tac Squads broke, they had no hope of regrouping, and thus fell back off the table.
On Turn 4, the Tyrant and his lone surviving Guard waded into my remaining Tactical guys, killing four of them. One of the Zoanthropes took a wound trying to unleash a Strength 10 Warp Blast on Surya, who was valiantly withstanding the shooting of the other Zoat and the Carni.
On Turn 5, my Librarian and her Assault Squad managed to fight off the Gaunts and Genestealers that had been grinding them down, and launched a last-gasp effort. My Librarian got into base-to-base contact with the Tyrant and made her Psychic test. I was hoping to wipe out the Tyrant with a mighty swing from Chandramatie Bahl’s force weapon, but I couldn’t tag the big beetle. Instead, it squashed my Librarian, and even though Davis’ Zoanthrope popped its own head by failing another Psychic test, I threw in the towel, conceding with a handful of figures left on the board. It was a discouraging, aggravating loss, and a thorough rout of my army.
I should have expected the genetically-engineered Gaunts, especially when I noticed that every “Termagant” was packing a devourer. My army was ideal for dealing with this kind of foe, and had I gone with my first instincts and kept my distance, I’m sure I would have won. I took an unnecessary risk, gambled, and lost, and I have no one to blame but myself.
Game 2: Redemption
The opposing army was a Ravenwing force—an opportunity for revenge against a hated foe! The army belonged to Brian Hess, but he had to leave due to illness after the first game. A staffer named Mike (a nice guy, too) stepped in to play Brian’s army—fortunately, Mike was a Dark Angel player, too, so he knew what to do.
Brian’s army had:
I got the first move in Turn 1, with my Librarian, 10 Assault Marines, and two 10-man Tactical Squads advancing toward the bikes, Vashtar, the other 10 Assault Marines, and the two 5-man squads moving up the board along the right hand side. The remaining two Tactical Squads sat in cover and unloaded some krak missiles, killing two bikers right off the bat.
The Ravenwing advanced, the Speeders splitting off to engage my Dread and troops headed up the side of the board, the bikes moving in on the Marines I had headed their way. Mike seemed kind of hesitant, though: he moved some of the bikes up as far as he could; the others motored in more slowly. The Ravenwing Chaplain fired and dropped one of my Assault Marines. I had plenty more where they came from.
On Turn 2, the fur started to fly. I hopped one squad of Tigers of Kali forward, then warped a 5-man squad of Tigers of Rudra up and they went after the bikes. The Tactical guys could only fire, but the Assault Marines could fire and charge, so they did—under the new assault rules, I gave up the extra hand-to-hand attacks because I wanted to get in three plasma pistol shots. The Interrogator-Chaplain, a Ravenwing Veteran Sergeant, and an Attack Bike dropped, and the survivors from that unit were stuck in hand-to-hand combat with a whole mess of Psycho Attack Grrrrls. Meanwhile, Vashtar managed to kill one of the Speeders (one down, three to go) and three krak missiles from my Tactical guys did zilch.
On Mike’s turn, his Speeders went after one of my 5-man Tac Squads, killing three Marines. An Attack Bike melted Vashtar in revenge, and more Ravenwing bikers piled into what was becoming a big melee on my side of the board. They killed two Tigers and the fight went on.
The remaining three turns went something like this: I fired all my heavy weapons at Speeders and Attack Bikes, plinking them off one by one. Mike kept throwing more bikes into the mass melee, and I kept throwing in more Tactical guys, who just piled on the attacks. I used the warp trick to reposition squads as I needed them, either to chase after Speeders or to add to the melee. The new assault rules kept me from taking out his Veteran Sergeants with the power weapons (including the dude with the power fist), but I lucked out and didn’t lose many guys. If I did, there were plenty more nearby.
Mike managed to teleport an Attack Bike right in front of Surya and vaporize him, but then one of my 10-man Tactical Squads jumped the Attack Bike and tore it up in hand-to-hand. The Grand Master finally got into melee on Turn 4, but it was way to late for him to do much. I warped an Assault Squad across the board, dropped it next to him, and unloaded with the plasma pistols. That was the end of his noise, and the effective end of the battle. Mike conceded after 5 turns, with not much left on the board.
Three things cemented an overwhelming victory for the Tigers. Firstly, the ability to warp units across the board benefited me much more than it did Mike, almost totally negating my lack of mobility. I was able to move 10 guys at a time to crucial areas of the battlefield and maintain my vast superiority of numbers.
Secondly, Mike split his already-small forces into three sections: the Speeders; a fast-moving wave of bikes that slammed themselves into close combat as soon as possible; and another pack of bikes that just sort of meandered into a melee that they couldn’t slash their way out of.
Thirdly, the Ravenwing list was just too loaded down with expensive toys. He needed all the extra points he could get.
I was quite pleased with my crushing victory in Game #2. Then Cruel Reality came stomping back into my face like a jilted lover, shouted very rude personal remarks at me, and bitch-slapped me again.
Game 3: And they
say iron is good for you….
My opponent was Rich Combs, an extremely nice guy. Really a pleasure to meet and play against. His army was a ferocious Iron Warriors force: if not a “Shooty Army From Hell,” then a “Shooty Army From Deep Within the Eye of Terror.” Rich’s army came to play hardball.
Above: Rich's Iron Warriors line up to unleash some whoop-ass on Our Stripey Heroes
There are some battles where you read the mission parameters, you look at the board, you look at what the other guy has, you look at what you have, and you realize that you are, without a doubt, totally screwed. This was one such battle. Nevertheless, I made a go of it.
Right off the bat, I realized that the Basilisk was going to give me no end of troubles. The only way I could realistically get rid of it was to send an Assault Squad back there to unleash their plasma pistols on it. Vashtar would lead a column of Tactical and Assault Marines up the other side of the board, using the terrain to (hopefully) shield themselves until they could get into the relative safety of hand-to-hand combat with the TinBoys Gone Bad. And a mess of Tactical Marines would hunker down in cover and try to present a large and irresistible target to the Bassie, hoping to draw its fire away from the mobile units. My army could take a punch: now we’d see if it could take lots of big punches.
As if the goofy deployment zones weren’t bad enough, the Preliminary Bombardment did nada to the Iron Warriors but did manage to kill five Tigers and pin one of my units. Swell. Just swell.
I’ll spare you the tedious yet gory details of each turn’s action. Rich’s army would fire all of its Great Big Guns into mine, lots of my dudes would drop, and I’d fire back at his Obliterators, the biggest threat besides the Bassie and the easiest to kill (not that it was easy to kill them, just that it was easier). Meanwhile, my two mobile elements would move up the sides of the board.
The Assault Squad sent to destroy the Bassie was nicely screened by terrain: no hostile fire came their way. They ran into a 5-man squad sent to intercept them and mauled the Traitors nicely. Rich, being no dummy, moved his Daemon Prince their way to block them. I fired lots of big guns at Xavier Khan, but he didn’t drop. Instead, he caught the Assault Squad and shredded them like they were incriminating paper files.
Over on my right, I quickly realized that once again, I had shot myself in the foot (with a plasma gun) by poor deployment. I should have stuck my Assault Squad as close as I could to the forward edge of my deployment zone, the sooner to get at Rich’s guys. Instead, I had the Tactical Squad go first, accompanied by Vashtar. They ran into some Obliterators and Havocs. The latter gunned down Vashtar, the former beat the stripes off of my Tactical guys and Assault girls in hand-to-hand combat. As my Librarian and her remaining Tigers of Kali fell back, I was stunned at just how bad the new, revised Obliterators were. Those things were monsters—and Rich had started the game with nine of them. Nine.
Darkness fell on Turn 4, but that was no big deal. Rich had plenty of big guns left—I had hardly put a dent into his army, and about half of mine was back in my miniatures case. Chandramatie Bahl and her surviving Assault Marines regrouped and attacked again, this time bypassing the Obliterators and tearing into the Havocs nearby. Finally, my Psycho Attack Grrls started kicking rusted butt, but it was too little, too late. Just as in the first game, when the fighting was all over, I had hardly anything left. Another crushing loss for Team Stripeypants.
Not bad, but certainly not in contention for any prizes. Had I done better in the battles, though, I certainly would have contended, because the scores at the top were very close together: everyone seemed to be having a rough time, with other veterans dropping one or two games each. No one was sweeping away the competition today.
I have mixed feelings about this tournament. On the one hand, it was cool to use all of my Tactical Marines and a real challenge to try something besides the standard “Rhino Rush” or “Shooty Army From Hell” strategies that just about every Marine force does. The second game was an absolute blast because Mike was a good guy, I like fighting Dark Angels, and because everything went the way I wanted it to. The third game was fun because Rich was such a class act, and I’m really glad I met him.
On the other hand, I went against conventional wisdom in Game 1 and got my guys pasted in a fight I could have won had I just played it safe and smart. And Game 3 was grueling: until the very end, I was losing like 10 guys a turn and taking out maybe one or two of his. Being able to take a punch is well and good, but I didn’t show up just to sit there and be someone's workout bag all day.
Ah, well. “The Stripey Phalanx of Death” was an interesting challenge, and maybe I’ll do it again sometime. And I did not go home empty-handed: my pal Yann Folange (who has a wacky sense of humor) attended and gave me this "Tiger Bus" you see below. Hmmm...maybe I've found a new troop transport....
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© Copyright Kenton
Kilgore, February 2003
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